As many websites do, the Montgomery Advertiser previews the upcoming season for their Alabama Crimson Tide. They break down their opponents week-by-week, noting key players, past results, and end with a prediction. Pretty much what we do at KSR, but sometimes it’s interesting to see what other fan bases are saying about UK. As you probably have guessed, they’re not too worried about Kentucky.
The UK analysis begins with a tone like they’re already overlooking the Cats:
Alabama returns to SEC action in Week 5 with a home matchup against Kentucky. However, it will likely be another week until the Crimson Tide faces a conference foe that provides a serious threat.
The Crimson Tide faces Arkansas a week later, followed by Tenneesee, which could play into UK’s favor. The most dangerous thing for a team to do is to look past any SEC opponent. Obviously this article isn’t the team’s mentality, but it’s interesting to note that Alabama’s fan base is already looking forward to matchups against Arkansas and Tenneesee. Kentucky could march into Tuscaloosa a week earlier and play spoiler to the Tide’s season. It’ll take a lot of hard work and perfect execution, but it’s not impossible.
Alabama has won its past five meetings against Kentucky and holds a 36-2-1 advantage all time. The closest the Wildcats came to beating the Tide recently was in 2008, when Alabama running back Glen Coffee rushed for 218 yards to help the Tide pull out a 17-14 victory. That year, Kentucky was able to limit Alabama on offense, holding Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson to 7-of-17 passing for 106 yards and an interception. If the Wildcats want to hang with the Tide this year, it appears they will have to rely on their offense instead.
Kentucky returns just five defensive starters from last year’s team, and that might not be such a bad thing for the Wildcats. Last season, Kentucky finished 63rd in the nation in defense, allowing an average of 394 yards per game. On the offensive side of the ball, Kentucky appears to be much better. The Wildcats return their top three receivers in Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson and Jeff Badet. Kentucky also brings back its top two running backs in Stanley Williams and Jojo Kemp.
Next, they bring to light the recent clash between UK and Bama over 4-star QB Mac Jones. It’s hard to forget that dreadful tweet, in which Jones announced he was decommitting from Kentucky. It’s enough to light a fire under you, knowing shortly after Jones would pledge his loyalty to Alabama. What’s done is done, as it just adds to the “tacklin’ fuel”, as Bobby Boucher (Waterboy) says. Darin Hinshaw’s tweet is also mentioned, followed by Lane Kiffin’s. It’s obvious that folks down in Alabama sent a lot of hate and criticism towards UK’s new QB coach.
The biggest thing to take from this recruit-flipping situation is that Kentucky now battles Alabama for high caliber players. That’s huge considering just years ago we were losing recruits to smaller programs.
Here are the three key players who the MA are watching heading into the Week 5 SEC matchup:
Stanley “Boom” Williams, junior, RB: Williams led Kentucky with 855 yards and six touchdowns on the ground last season. The junior should have plenty of room to run this season, too. Kentucky returns four offensive line starters from last year’s team. They should be able to open up plenty of holes for Williams as well as senior running back Jojo Kemp.
Dorian Baker, junior, WR: As a sophomore, Baker was one of Kentucky’s best receivers last season. He led the Wildcats with 55 receptions and totaled 608 yards and three touchdowns through the air. While last year’s starting quarterback, Patrick Towles, transferred to Boston College this offseason, Baker will lead strong group of returning receivers for sophomore Drew Barker to throw to.
Matt Elam, junior, DT: Elam excited his home state when he elected to sign with Kentucky over Alabama in 2014. Since then, the 6-foot-7, 360-pound nose tackle hasn’t yet lived up to his five-star status. After making four starts last season, many project him to have a breakout season this year.
Lastly, they give their prediction for the game.
Alabama will take advantage of a weak Kentucky defense en route to a blowout win. The victory should give the Tide plenty of momentum heading into back-to-back road games against Arkansas and Tennessee. Alabama 45, Kentucky 16.
Kentucky wasn’t given much credit as a team, but they’ll have to go out and earn it just like all other teams. As it stands, a blowout isn’t out of the question, but you hate to see your team on the receiving end.
What are your thoughts heading into this football season? Will the Cats come out strong and surprise a few teams, or will they fall short of expectations within the #BBN? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. I remain optimistic.